Monday, August 30, 2010


"He takes the hard parts of our lives and makes them into something beautiful."
-Pat Robertson

I am constantly amazed at how good God is, and how good He is at redeeming broken lives.  I have personally experienced His redemption, I have witnessed redemption countless times.  It's like He's got it all down to an art form.  There is no life, no situation, that He can not redeem.  Since the fall of man, all those broken pieces, fitted together into a new whole, a complete and perfect work.  It seems that God is into mosaics.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

it blowed up real good

* * * * Last week Gina asked me what I wanted for my birthday.  I told her that I wanted to go see Stalone's latest meat-grinder movie The Expendables.  I thought she was wanting me to go with Jose' but surprised me.  She wanted to go see it with me.  She also liked The A-Team.  Gina promised me before going into the bloody fray that she wouldn't complain if she didn't like it (she did).

Though the movie isn't my favorite Sly movie, it delivered on gun fire and exploding chunks of flesh.  Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger had only brief cameos which were used in the movie trailer (below).   Don't get your hopes up seeing Sylvester, Bruce, and Ahhhnold fighting side by side - this is Stalone's flick.  The only thing I thought seeing Schwarzenegger on the silver screen again was "Geez - being GovEnaah of Caleeeforneyah has made Arnold old."  The brief scene with the trio together was anti-climatic.

What seems to be missing in this movie, are the bad-ass quips that Stalone, Willis, and Schwarzenegger movies are famous for.  If you're going to have a testosterone fueled big budget violent gotta have lots of witty quips to toss in with the grenades.  

There wasn't much to the plot, but it was an enjoyable ride nevertheless.  It's a guy movie in which the screen is filled with cigar chomping, muscle bound, tattooed, motorcycle riding, knife throwing, bad guy killing good guys.  Though this is clearly a new Stalone vehicle, Sly doesn't hog the camera.  He seemed very generous by sharing the celluloid glory among his aged beef co-stars.

The Expendables is Wild Bunch meets Magnificent Seven meets Dogs of War meets Grumpy Old Men.  I think Stalone is trying to start yet another franchise with The Expendables.  I wish him well - I'll be front row center,  Like Stalone, I get the senior citizen rate.

Monday, August 23, 2010

breaking a few eggs in the kitchen

We've lived in our house for 14 years.  Katie was born the week after we moved in.  During the entire time we've lived here, our kitchen badly needed renovation.  The tile floor had been laid on particle board and has been cracking and chipping apart down through the years.  It's really gotten ridiculous.  I had plans on reflooring the kitchen at the same time I was working on the basement and the upstairs bathroom five years ago.  The renovation money ran out when Gina and I decided to start Occupational Therapy of Gadsden, LLC.  All of our attention and resources had to be put toward the business and the home work had to be put on hold.

A few weeks ago Gina and I decided to break down and DO SOMETHING about the kitchen.  The work days are still busy and so I've been working week nights in the kitchen.  It was nice to have Gina help me this past weekend finish the de-glossing of the cabinet doors.  

I finished emptying out the kitchen cabinets by late Saturday afternoon.  It's amazing how many boxes I filled with kitchen stuff.  The livingroom is filled to to ceiling with kitchen stuff.  Our house is officially a mess again.

The kitchen cabinets are now empty and all the wood is prepped for painting.  I've been mentally geared into forward motion.  I've been doing little projects around the house that have needed my attention.

Sometime later in the week Jose' Rodriguez will be coming over to help me pull the old tile off the floor and remove the old sub-floor.  I can't start painting the cabinets and walls until the old flooring and sub-flooring is removed.  I am now in a holding pattern.

Gina has been trying to find time to go with me to go hunt for floor tile.  We've found some countertop ideas at Lowes.  Gina loves the granite, but we both know all that we can really afford is the laminate. We'll have to keep the '70's era harvest gold range-top, range hood, and double oven.  They are ugly and dated but still functional.  I know that when we are finished with the rest of the kitchen, the harvest gold appliances will stick out like a sore thumb.  Eventually these appliances will be replaced with stainless steel units.

There's so much to do to the house as a whole.  Kelsey, when she was little pulled much of the wallpaper in the upstairs hallway.  I'd like to someday soon pull the wallpaper remnants down and splash on a fresh coat of paint.  The entrance and livingroom are still the teal color that sickened us when we first moved into the house.  I really would like to see the teal go.  The house would look a lot better with some painting.

It's funny how I don't think about all the things that need to be done in and around the house until I start working in one area.  Once started on the kitchen, other projects start calling to me.  One thing at a time - one thing at a time - one thing at a time!

Friday, August 20, 2010

buttercream frosting

Last week I kept thinking about Mickey Cakes snack cakes.  I posted about them at Boomerville, USA last week.  Wednesday night I decided that I was going to make myself a big devil's food cake.  While in the store I noticed two containers of butter-cream icing.  Hmmm - that would be good with devil's food.  I bought two.

Gina had been nailed with work at the office this week so I got around to baking it as my birthday cake. I haven't baked a cake in many a year.  My poor eyesight, I couldn't make out all the tiny instructions.  I didn't have the right reading glasses handy.  I saw what to set the oven on and there were pictures of the extra ingredients needed.  I didn't see where it only took just one box to make two 9" cake tiers.  Oops!

I called my mother for some quick advice, telling her I couldn't read all the directions.  She asked how long it had been since I put the cake into the oven.  I told her that I bought 2 boxes of cake mix, one for each pan.  Oops!

I ran straight to the oven to discover that I had an 'I Love Lucy' episode baking in the oven.  Oops!  It's a good thing that I already had a baking sheet sitting on the bottom shelf.  It caught a lot of excess cake goop.  I greased a third 9" cake pan and commenced to unload some of the pregnant cakes that had already risen to biblical proportions.

It's an ugly cake.  I tried to stack two of the tiers to make for a normal cake, but they came out very rounded.  I let them cool and then tried to add icing to the two I stacked atop each other.  I am lousy when it comes to applying frosting.  I gobbed on two containers of butter-cream.

I prepped dinner and we decided to go ahead and cut into my ugly devil cake early.  Mmmmm.  We cut into it again last night and it was better than it had been the night before.  I don't recall ever making a pretty cake.  I must say though, I've never baked a bad cake.

The cake is half way gone.  Fear not, the third 9" pan is iced with vanilla icing and ready to be eaten once the butter cream is history.  Which reminds me,  I need to pick up a gallon of milk before I head home.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Our seven year old daughter Kelsey Brook Finlayson accepted Jesus!  It had been on her heart for several months.  She had been asking questions about Jesus, salvation, and baptism  over a period of time.  Gina told me that she felt a decision was soon and coming.   Saturday, August 7thh,  Gina called me into the house to pray with our youngest daughter.   Kelsey wanted me to help with what to pray.  I explained to her about salvation and if she was ready.  She was very giddy, and said 'yes!'  Kelsey then wanted to be baptized.  Yesterday afternoon, a little after 2:00,  on August 15th, daddy baptized her little girl.  Gina and I are very proud of her.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

the party of lunacy

My pal John Zeller emailed this one to me.  

Social Security Cards up until the 1980s expressly stated that the number and card were not to be used for identification purposes.

Since nearly everyone in the United States now has a number, it became convenient to use it anyway and the message was removed.

Democrat Franklin Roosevelt introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program.

He promised:

1.) That participation in the Program would be completely voluntary,

It's no longer voluntary.

2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual incomes into the Program.

It's now 7.65% on the first $90,000.
3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year,

Contributions are no longer tax deductible.

4.) That the money would be put into the independent 'Trust Fund' rather than into the general operating fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program, and,

Under Democrat President Lyndon Johnson the money was moved to The General Fund and Spent.

5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income.

Under Democrats Clinton & Gore, up to 85% of your Social Security can be Taxed.

Q: Which Political Party took Social Security from the independent 'Trust Fund' and put it into the general fund so that Congress could spend it?

A: Democrat Lyndon Johnson and the democratically controlled House and Senate.

Q: Which Political Party eliminated the income tax deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?

A: The Democratic Party.

Q: Which Political Party started taxing Social Security annuities?

A: The Democratic Party, with Democrat Al Gore casting the 'tie-breaking' deciding vote as President of the Senate, while he was Vice President of the  US.

Q: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?
A: Democrat Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party.  Immigrants, at age 65, began to receive Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into it.

And naive people still vote for Democrats?

What would you expect from a party whose logo is a jackass?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

resistance is futile

My girls started back to school Monday.  Kelsey takes on second grade and Katie is officially a freshman at Southside High School.  Both had a good first day.  Both of course came home with their first day stories.   Both eagerly anticipate the future.

Both girls had a slow time getting to sleep the night before.   It brought back memories for me.  I had a different kind of experience with public education.  I am very glad that they are not experiencing what I experienced.  So far, they've had great - caring teachers.  Thank you God!

I know I'm an old geezer, but how long ago did they start doing orientation for high school kids?  They even give kids a school map and let them know who there teachers are going to be prior to first day of class.  In my day we used to have to walk 150 miles to school and didn't get orientation, a map, and a list of teachers prior to the first day.  We took first day point blank and liked it - and liked it good!  Things sure have changed over the years.

The kids didn't spend many of their Summer days at home.  They spent much of them at the office.  I believe though that this was a better Summer for them than the past few.  Gina got on the calendar before school let out and made sure she planned lots of out of office experiences for them.  Limited by finances, we were still able to take a few extra days off from the clinic and treat ourselves to an extended weekend vacation in Chattanooga.  It was fast but fun.

Our Summer burned as fast as a match.  Kelsey (7) kept asking how many days were left till school started.  The last two weeks became a quick countdown to the inevitable.  When the day came, Kelsey jumped in with both feet.  Katie (14) dived in bravely.  Katie loves to read, but we told her that her pleasure reading will have to take the back seat to her studies.  Did I say Katie loves to read?  She spent most of her Summer reading - that's what she enjoys the most.  I am glad that she's like she is.  I remember those countless trips to the library when she was a little thing.  I remember all those books she had to read each week through the Accelerated Reader program.  She had to read so many books that I was concerned that she would grow up avoiding books altogehter.  Not so.
School starts for all of us.  Homework.  One of my roles as a father is to help with homework.  For those of you out there who know me a little - might find this a bit amusing.  The old albatross caught up with me.  I don't recall doing much homework when I was a kid.  I still blame it on the cat.  It's not that I wasn't a willing kid, I just got lost somewhere along the way.  There was a point in my early education that I got so overwhelmed and flustered that I gave up...or shut or the other.   Confidence 0 - Bleeding Ulcer 12.  So my job as a dad is to make sure that what happened to me doesn't happen to them.  So far so good.

School for the most part is about herding and testing.  Past junior high, I don't recall a teacher that tried to teach anything.  Math was the worse.  A teacher would lay down a principle once, and the student was supposed to be able to simply pick the idea up the first time.  I remember in tenth grade Algebra, having asked a teacher to show me again how it worked - and she said I was own my own.  She didn't have time to individually show me how to do it.  I was somehow supposed figure it out and catch up.  Well, I never figured it out and never caught up.  C'est la vie.

So as a homework helper, I do my best when it comes to anything that you have to add-subtract-multiply-divide and conquer.  When it comes to Algebra - we have sprung for and will continue to spring for math tutors for our children.

There is no running from school.  Schooling is a continuous process throughout life.  Maybe not in a building, maybe not by teachers, maybe not with chalkboards - but soon and for the rest of your life.  If we stop learning we stop growing.  If we stop growing we stop living.  I believe that most of education really takes place outside of classrooms and beyond the institution.  Educators should be equipping students with the tools to learn.  It's up to the student to apply them.

Before Gina (my wife). I don't recall ever being taught me how to study.   That was a power tool that I wasn't simply wasn't given as a  kid.   Unfortunately I acquired it later in life - and to yet  to great advantage.  My educator brother mentioned once that anyone can get through schooling, "if they are willing to do the work".  

Every parent worth his or her salt must be a home-school teacher of sorts.  So off to school and home to work.  Discipline isn't taught in school, it's acquired at home.  Studying must be taught.  Half-assed effort will get you half-assed results.  The taskmaster motto at our house is 'homework FIRST'.   "AwwwW-But Dad!"  I once thought that I was through with school, but education is a never ending process.  Resistance is futile.  How many times have I sat with my child doing homework thinking "OH THE IRONY!".